A former quant on what it was like to work under the traders at Goldman Sachs: “we’re basically the trader’s little bitches.”
Quants typically earn much less than the traders who use their algorithms.
Just recently it seems, quants have started to revolt. There is evidence that quants are leaving some firms and joining others that will pay them more.
But that wasn’t the case two years ago at Goldman Sachs, according to a post by an entrepreneur who left Goldman in 2008 and recently spilled all sorts of insider secrets about the company in a blog post to attract attention to his new startup, adgrok. (We previously posted about Goldman’s trading floor gambling and trading technology and bathrooms.)
Here’s what he says life as a quant is like at Goldman:
We were basically the trader’s little bitches, and any quant who’s honest with himself realises that. In time, we quants developed knee callouses from genuflecting to service the traders, on whose profits our livelihoods depended.
The only time we shone as stars was when some particularly hairy deal came up, and a befuddled trader came by, dropping off some thick bond indenture document, and asking for help4.
Peering into these deals was kind of like the zoomed-in penetration shot in a cheesy porn video: you could barely tell which end was up, which part was which, or, more importantly, who exactly was screwing whom. The quant aspect didn’t really matter at the end, as one lacrosse-playing Penn graduate would agree on price via phone with another lacrosse-playing Cornell grad, and life would resume its speedy course to another deal.
The sad truth is: quants were the eunuchs at the orgy. The fluffers on the porn set of high finance. We were the ever-present British guy in every Hollywood WWII film: there to add a touch of class and exotic sophistication, but not really matter much to the plot (and maybe even conveniently take some bad guy’s bullet).
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